The Attic Outlet, presented by Community Care Ministries (CCM), started out as a ministry of Grace Baptist Church with a small food pantry. In 1996, the church got the idea from another ministry in Florida to open a thrift store in order to raise money to pay for benevolence. A director was appointed to start The Attic, opening up the store in a small building on Anderson Street.
Five years later, the store had grown so exponentially that the church decided that the thrift store needed more space. “The community was very supportive in donating, so we ended up having a tremendous amount of product, but not enough space to sort and store it, which is how we ended up in our current location on West Hogan Street,” director Lisa Cardwell said. “We have been in this location for 18 years.”
Cardwell has a staff of 12 paid employees, including herself, along with a team of 25 volunteers. The store and donation center are both open six days a week, Monday through Saturday. The sales from The Attic are the funding source for all of the store’s overhead funding, as well as CCM. The ministry has a few financial donors, but 90% of what they make comes from the donations sold in the store.
CCM serves Coffee, Bedford, Franklin and Moore counties. The food pantry was enhanced in 2018 to be a member of Second Harvest and approved as a USDA site. USDA is a food program through the federal government, with Second Harvest being the only one in Tullahoma.
“That opened up a huge door for us to be able to offer fresh meat, produce, all of it channeled through Second Harvest and USDA. We can now provide a complete food box for people who need it in the community,” Cardwell said. “Because of this, our numbers have quadrupled. It is a tremendous blessing.”
Support Our Seniors Program
The Support Our Seniors (SOS) program is targeted for senior citizens in a low economic class, providing them with food and assistance with medical bills. They have to be age 62 or older and meet the poverty level based on USDA guidelines.
“They all come once a month to get supplies. We have a whole team of people that load everything up into their cars,” Cardwell said. “They don’t even have to get out of the car. It works out really well for our seniors and we are so happy to able to provide them with things that they need.”
CCM has also been able to help with bills, clothing assistance, furniture, household goods, firewood and more for people in the community who qualify for assistance.
“We had a client call that had been homeless for two years and had gotten enough to get a new apartment and pay for utilities, but had no furniture or household goods,” Cardwell said. “We were able to completely outfit her entire apartment with everything that she needed. It made such a difference for her.”
“We are so grateful for our donors and get a lot of items that we cannot sell on the floor such as eyeglasses, medical supplies, cell phones, wigs and old blankets or comforters. Instead of throwing those out, we have partnered with the Lion’s Club, Haven of Hope, Partners for Healing, The Multicounty Cancer Society and three animal shelters that can utilize these things that we are not allowed to sell,” Cardwell said. “It is a great partnership and we are happy to provide other local nonprofits with things that they need.”
The Attic also donates clothing once a year to Palermo Church, a ministry that sponsors a church in Sierra Leone, Africa.
For more information about CCM and how to volunteer, follow their page on Facebook: The Attic Outlet or call 931-393-3002. The Attic is located at 302 W. Hogan St.
Katelyn Lawson may be reached at email@example.com.